E-bikes and E-scooters have become a common fixture across the nation’s urban landscape, touted as a cure-all for everything from traffic congestion to greenhouse gas emissions. But that rising popularity has also come with a cost: an epidemic of micro mobility fires ignited by over-heated and over-pressurized lithium-ion batteries.
The Killino Firm’s defective product lawyers believe the victims of preventable injuries and wrongful deaths should receive compensation for their pain and suffering. If you or a loved one were harmed in a lithium-ion battery fire caused by an E-scooter or E-bike, please call our law firm toll-free at 877-875-2927 to speak with an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.
Electric Micro Mobility Fires: What’s the Problem?
While many people have been quick to embrace E-Bikes, E-Scooters, E-Skateboards, and other electric-powered micro mobility vehicles due to their relatively low cost and convenience, for some, the benefits haven’t outweighed the potential dangers.
In fact, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), from January 1, 2021, through November 28, 2022, at least 200 fires in 39 states were linked to the lithium-ion batteries used to power such devices. Those incidents caused 19 fatalities, including 5 associated with E-scooters, 11 with hoverboards, and 3 with E-bikes. The CPSC also received reports of at least 22 injuries that resulted in emergency department visits, with 12 of the injuries involving E-scooters and 10 involving E-bikes.
According to The New York Times, the issue is particularly acute in densely populated cities, where thousands of delivery drivers often rely on electric micro mobility vehicles to earn a living. In New York City, for example, lithium-ion battery fires, mostly associated with charging E-Bikes, have killed 23 people since 2021, including 13 in the first six months of 2023. The Big Apple had already logged 108 such fires as of June, compared with 98 for the same period last year.
Micro mobility fires are uniquely dangerous. Fast-moving and ferocious, they ignite in an instant, leaving victims with little time to escape. Such fires occur when lithium-ion cells experience thermal runaway, which causes a sharp increase in battery temperature and pressure accompanied by the release of flammable gas. Should the gas ignite, the resulting hot-burning fire can be particularly difficult to extinguish.
Overcharging, a manufacturing defect, or even the heat from an adjacent cell in a lithium-ion battery pack already experiencing thermal runaway is enough to trigger the catastrophic sequence of events that culminates in a potentially deadly fire.
Lithium-Ion Battery Fires are Nothing New
Lithium-ion battery fires are a well-known threat.
In fact, according to the Times, the batteries have a history of sparking fires in notebook computers, smartphones and hoverboards. But while the technology has generally become safer over the years, the competitive micro mobility market has driven manufacturers to squeeze even more energy into lithium-ion batteries in recent years.
“The problem is that we’re trying to squeeze too much energy out of these batteries, and that makes them more dangerous,” Nikhil Gupta, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, told the Times.
Manufacturers could make safer batteries. For example, electric cars and energy storage systems require far more powerful lithium-ion batteries than an E-bike or E-scooter, yet are associated with far fewer fires. The difference comes down to stricter regulations, which require those products to undergo multiple testing phases before being brought to market. Because micro mobility vehicles have, until recently, escaped the scrutiny that would result in tighter regulation, cheaper, low-quality devices and potentially dangerous batteries have been allowed to flood the market.
Preventing Micro Mobility Fires
In March, New York City Council passed a law requiring all micro mobility devices – including E-bikes and E-scooter – sold in the Five Boroughs to meet the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) robust electrical and fire-safety standards. That mandate took effect last month.
If you’re in the market for a micro mobility vehicle, limiting your purchase to a product that’s been UL-certified can go a long way to lessen the risk of a fire. Look for one of the following certifications on the underside of its removable battery or charger:
- The UL 2849 standard for the vehicle’s overall system, including battery, charger and drivetrain
- L 2272 standard for just the battery pack.
Once you’ve made your purchase, take some time to read the manufacturer’s safety manual before using or charging your new E-bike or E-scooter, and always follow the instructions for charging and maintaining the battery.
To reduce the potential for a micro mobility fire, you should also:
- Store the vehicle battery in a clean, dry, temperature-controlled environment, never on or near a heat source, and away from flammable materials or direct sunlight.
- Use only the vehicle’s original battery and charger. If a backup battery is necessary, purchase the same brand.
- Regularly check the battery and battery plug for damage. Never charge a micro mobility vehicle if you notice anything unusual, such as frayed cables on the charger; overheating; a bulging or leaking battery; crackling, hissing or other noises; or the smell of sulfur or other off odors.
- Don’t leave your charging micro mobility device or battery unattended. Limit charging sessions to an hour, and NEVER leave it charging overnight.
- Contact the manufacturer directly if you’re having trouble with your micro mobility battery or if the battery has been damaged. NEVER open the battery yourself – leave repairs to the manufacturer. Contact a reputable battery service provider if the manufacturer has gone out of business.
If your E-bike or E-scooter does ignite, remember micro mobility fires can spread rapidly – evacuate and call 911 immediately. Your household fire extinguisher is no match for anything other than a small flame, so leave the fire fighting to the professionals.
Our defective product attorneys have helped many people obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other associated damages resulting from defectively designed or manufactured products. If you were injured or lost a loved one to a micro mobility fire and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Killino Law Firm at 1-877-875-2927.